Five soldiers have returned to Millers Kill from active duty. Five soldiers who have opted to join a counseling group to work through the demons that have followed them home from war. But when one of the five commits suicide, more than the personal demons of these soldiers are unleashed on the sleepy little New York town of Millers Kill.
When I was offered the chance to read ONE WAS A SOLDIER, I readily agreed. I had heard many good things about this series; here was my push to dive into it. So as not to start cold on the seventh book of the series, I picked up audiobooks of the earlier works in this series. For those who are concerned, it isn't necessary to have the background of the earlier books; you can pick this series up with ONE WAS A SOLDIER, but I enjoyed seeing how the characters from the earlier tales weaved into this one.
ONE WAS A SOLDIER is a timely story dealing with the unspeakable effects of war on our soldiers. It is because we allow these effects to be unspeakable that they have such devastating and lasting effects on our men and women. This novel approaches that issue beautifully.
The effects of the soldiers are all orbiting around the central event of the plot that deals with some unsavory business practices and an apparent car accident. Spencer-Fleming begins the book in a series of flashback episodes that ultimately lead into the present, allowing her to bring the story together in pieces. Much like the soldiers are piecing their lives back together, the reader pieces their stories and the mystery together.
The characters in this novel are at times painfully real, at other times humorously real, and still other times mundanely real. By the time the reader turns the last page, he/she has made a whole town of new friends. Of course, that's if you're reading this series for the first time. If you're a devoted series fan, then you're visiting them again after a bit of a vacation.
I'm especially fond of Clare Fergusson. Seeing her grow throughout the series is a joyful experience. She has so much love and compassion for others that sometimes she trips over it. Clare easily won a place on my list of favorite females in crime fiction.
ONE WAS A SOLDIER is a novel that doesn't fit easily into pre-established labels. Grittier than the cozy novel, a touch of the literary, and whole lot of enjoyment. It's in a league of its own. Count me among Julia Spencer-Fleming's cheerleaders. I love this series.
ONE WAS A SOLDIER is available today from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-312-33489-5) and will be available later this month on audio from AudioGo (ISBN: 978-1-609-98185-3). Thursday I'll have a review of another book from the series in the audio format.